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World on Fire: How Exporting Free-Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability [Paperback]

Amy Chua
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 July 2004

Amy Chua's remarkable and provocative book explores the tensions of the post-Cold War globalising world. As global markets open, ethnic conflict worsens and democracy in developing nations can turn ugly and violent. Chua shows how free markets have concentrated disproportionate, often spectacular wealth in the hands of resented ethnic minorities - 'market-dominant minorities'. Adding democracy to this volatile mix can unleash suppressed ethnic hatred and bring to power 'ethno-nationalist' governments that pursue aggressive policies of confiscation and revenge. Chua also shows how individual countries may be viewed as market-dominant minorities, a fact that could help to explain the rising tide of anti-American sentiment around the world and the visceral hatred of Americans expressed in recent acts of terrorism.

Chua is not an anti-globalist. But in this must-read bestselling book she presciently warns that, far from making the world a better and safer place, democracy and capitalism - at least in the raw, unrestrained form in which they are currently being exported - are intensifying ethnic resentment and global violence, with potentially catastrophic results.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Arrow; New Ed edition (1 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099455048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099455042
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 358,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"There is a plethora of books about globalisation, many saying roughly the same thing. This one is different ... This book is a gem ... Her theme is different, rich and compelling ... A pleasure to read" (Guardian)

"Very, very readable; very powerful - this is a very illuminating book" (Clare Short A Good Read)

"The greatest tribute to any book is the conviction upon closing it that the senseless finally makes sense. That's the feeling left by Amy Chua's World on Fire ... provocative, evocative, nuanced and highly readable, starting at page one" (Washington Post)

"Ambitiously conceived, impressively researched and gracefully written, Amanda Foreman has crafted a narrative rich in detail, anecdote, insight and personalities. It puts a human face - many human faces - on a brutal conflict remorselessly descending into an inhuman total war" (Brian Jenkins)

"A tour de force, a work of extreme virtuosity both in the research and the telling" (Bloomberg News)

Book Description

The New York Times bestseller and one of The Economist's Best Books of the Year 2003. Perfect for fans of current affairs books with an emphasis on globalisation, by writers such as Naomi Klein and Eric Schlosser, World on Fire is the most original contribution to the globalisation debate in years.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
This examination of the effects of US led globalisation sheds light on an otherwise seldom discussed aspect of the phenomenon. The (frequently 'foreign') minority that becomes exceedingly rich from the spoils of the export of capitalism are inciting a backlash by 'ordinary' disgruntled people, so it is claimed, and duly, many pertinent examples are cited.
Yet, there is the feeling that although good references and suitable examples are offered, there is still somewhat of a jump between the reasons for 'Why They All Hate Us' - a chapter title, and any conclusions that are subsequently drawn.
In much the same way as Bracken's 'Fire in the East' purports the angry, vengeance-seeking rise of the 'East', just does not ring true, so too it is with this book. However, the book is interesting and not dry in an academic sense, and highlights yet more potential problems of capitalism and globalisation.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but flawed 13 July 2009
By Ross
I'll assume that most people reading this are familiar with Any Chua's basic idea of `Market Dominant minorities' and the hostility that they receive. When I first read this a few years ago I thought it was fantastic and explained so much. However rereading it recently I have doubts.

The phenomenon certainly does exist in much of the world, the overseas Chinese (of which her family is part) has achieved enormous economic dominance in much of East Asia and been the victim of mob violence repeatedly as a result over the course of many centuries. The Lebanese in West Africa, Indians in East Africa and Jews in Eastern Europe are also examples of ethnic minorities vastly out performing the indigenous population.

However there are some things that leave me unconvinced, Chua claims that these resentments are likely to be inflamed by democracy and free markets. It is certainly true that free markets exacerbate the differences but World On Fire gives examples of this kind of mob violence going back centuries, to well before the era of democracy. Some of the outbreaks of violence, such as the anti Chinese riots in Indonesia in 1998 were concurrent with democracy, but surely this is because the same forces that weakened the grip of the dictator, Suharto, weakened the states control of law and order.

Secondly she tries to fit the Market Dominant Minorities idea to too many conflicts, for example she emphasises that the Croats were much wealthier than the Serbs as a possible cause of the bloody Yugoslav wars. Yet Serbian nationalist propaganda and violence was initially directed to a much greater extent at the impoverished ethnic Albanians.

Thirdly think her concept needs refinement.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good case, but sometimes overdone 8 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A stimulating book full of insights from all over the world. The main argument is that free market democracy can lead to violence against market-dominant minorities. It is a broadside attack at American policy of exporting democracy will-nilly. Not being American, I feel less concerned at this polemical point.

The argument clearly applies in many cases cited, and the insights extended my understanding. How Chua overdoes it sometimes. For example, Croatians are cited as being attacked by Serbs because they were a market-dominant minority. Not convincing. There were longstanding ethnic disputes which had little or nothing to do with economy. Slovenia WAS a market-dominant economy, but it got away into independence virtually unscathed in 1991.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The fire next time? 25 Dec 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"World on fire" argues that globalization has made matters worse, not better, in most Third World nations. The spread of laissez faire capitalism has made "market-dominant minorities" even more powerful than before. The introduction of democracy has given the dispossessed "indigenous majorities" a chance to attack the market-dominant minorities. More capitalism and more democracy, introduced simultaneously, therefore mean more instability and ethnic strife.

True, as far as it goes. But what does it all mean? And what should be done about it? It eventually turns out that the author, so seemingly critical of globalization, actually supports it. Her real problem turns out to be...democracy.

Amy Chua denies (!) that the conflicts between "maket-dominant minorities" and "indigenous majorities" are about class. She thinks it's a matter of ethnicity. I don't deny that classes are often ethnically based. But just as often, they are *not* ethnically based. Still, they are classes. From this, I draw the conclusion that "class" or "socio-economic status group" is a more fundamental phenomenon than ethnicity. The author believes the opposite, which simply isn't convincing.

But even as an analysis of ethnic strife, the book oversimplifies. Many of the market-dominant minorities mentioned in the book existed long before globalization. The Whites have long been "market dominant" in South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. The Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi were dominant even before the advent of European colonialists. Strictly speaking, the Tutsis aren't a *market* dominant minority, but a landed aristocracy. The author points out somewhere that most shops in Rwanda's capital Kigali were owned by East Indians.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars World on Fire
far from making the world a better and safer place, democracy and capitalism - at least in the raw, unrestrained form in which they are currently being exported - are intensifying... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Too ambitious to prove anything, but does raise interesting points for...
World on Fire scores well as a piece of helpful shock therapy. For anyone assuming American policy toward the developing world is inevitably benign, Amy Chua gives them plenty to... Read more
Published 24 months ago by Strangerbird
2.0 out of 5 stars Market-dominant minorities, ethnic hatred and democracy
With many examples of ethnic conflicts all over the world, Amy Chua shows that the combined pursuit of free markets and democratization in countries with market-dominant minorities... Read more
Published on 23 Dec 2010 by Luc REYNAERT
4.0 out of 5 stars Globalised hatreds
Starting from the position of the Chinese in South-East Asia, this book looks all round the world at cases where a minority population is better at business, becomes rich and... Read more
Published on 11 Jun 2010 by Mr. G. M. Williams
5.0 out of 5 stars amy chua
great read and a truly thought out comprehensive approach to an evaluation of ethnic minorities of certain states dominating. could all black British people read this please.
Published on 7 Jun 2010 by Coffee Lawyer
5.0 out of 5 stars Novel take on the effects of the spread of democracy and free market...
The premise of the book is that the spread of free market capitalism and democracy are assumed to be desirable by most policy makers. "Free markets and free men" being the maxim. Read more
Published on 13 Jun 2009 by M. McManus
1.0 out of 5 stars Deeply unpleasant book - anti-democracy
Chua is a Professor at Yale Law School. In Part 1 she describes globalisation's economic impact, in Part 2 its political consequences, and in Part 3 she warns that the USA should... Read more
Published on 1 May 2009 by William Podmore
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
An interesting book analysing the negative effects of globalisation and capitalism on poorer nations and their people.
Published on 15 Oct 2003
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